We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Launch of the USS New York

I believe I mentioned this when the story about the World Trade Center steel first came out. I am sure most of our readers will appreciate the symbolism in this DOD press release:

The Navy will christen the newest San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship New York (LPD 21) at 10 a.m. CST on Saturday, March 1, 2008, during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding facilities in New Orleans, La.

The ship is named New York in honor of the state, the city and the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. A unique characteristic of the ship is the use of 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage that was incorporated into the construction process. The steel was melted and formed to make the bow stem of the ship. Use of this steel symbolizes the spirit and resiliency of the people of New York. The official motto of New York is: “Never Forget.”

And I will not. Not until the day the last Al Qaeda swings on a loose noose at Guantanamo or lies rotting in some forgotten mountain fastness with a precise hole drilled in the forehead of their sun-bleached skull.

The passing of a great American

One of the most important writers and intellectuals of America, William F. Buckley, has died. I did not agree with all of his views, but it would be churlish and extreme bad manners not to acknowledge his enormous influence in the fightback against what was, when he started out, the entrenched Big Government views of the US. He was, by all accounts, a most civilised, friendly and good man. As they say, he left the world a better place. He is one of those American intellectual and political figures, like Barry Goldwater, whom I regard, warts and all, as heroes.

May he rest in peace. My condolences to his friends and loved ones.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is one of the oddities of the consumer-electronics industry that the snazziest products often have their origins in the world’s oldest profession., The porn industry’s embrace of the videocassette helped guarantee the technology’s commercial success. Today, it is doing the same for the DVD and the Internet.”

– John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, A Future Perfect.

(John is related to Samizdata contributor Brian Micklethwait, for those who are curious).

Discussion point XVI

The United Nations and the various NGOs which operate within its orbit, which naturally sees the world in terms of nation-states, regards statelessness as a ‘problem’ and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights include the phrase “everyone has the right to a nationality”.

Yet as the world becomes more cosmopolitan and globalised, the primary threats to security are themselves non-state based (such as radical Islam) and private trade without the intermediation of states has never been easier in the dawning age of virtualised networked economics. Could we one day see a time in which many see modern narrow concepts of nationality and ‘citizenship’ of any Westphalian style state as an imposition rather than a ‘right’?

Samizdata quote of the day

You should see an ID card like a passport in-country.

– Meg Hillier MP, the minister responsible for the scheme, to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, today.

Springtime is here

Well, the daffodils are out, even the shrubs in my small garden are starting to grow. The weather has been rather nice of late. So, in this spirit, take it away, Mr Tom Lehrer:

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring.
I do, don’t you? ‘Course you do.
But there’s one thing that makes spring complete for me,
And makes every Sunday a treat for me.

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.
Every Sunday you’ll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an’ hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun’s shining bright,
Everything seems all right,
When we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.

We’ve gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it’s not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.

So if Sunday you’re free,
Why don’t you come with me,
And we’ll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we’ll do
In a squirrel* or two,
While we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.

Alex Singleton on how Fairtrade isn’t

Alex Singleton’s most recent posting here was on the subject of libertarians in the mainstream media, one in particular. Maybe that has some connection to the fact that Alex seems to be becoming a mainstream media person himself. A few days before that Samizdata piece about a fellow journalist, he did another Samizdata posting about Fairtrade beer, and he returned to the subject of Fairtrade, this time Fairtrade coffee (at the time of me writing this there is a problem with that link – hopefully it will soon work again), in a piece last Friday in one of the Telegraph blogs which he now regularly writes for. Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph (paper version and online) included a shorter version of that same piece. This was the bit (I’m quoting the longer Friday version) which I found most interesting, and most depressing:

Despite Fairtrade’s moral halo, there are other, more ethical forms of coffee available. Most Fairtrade coffee on sale in UK supermarkets and on the high street is roasted and packaged in Europe, principally in Belgium and Germany. This is unnecessary and retards development. Farmers working for Costa Rica’s Café Britt have been climbing the economic ladder by not just growing beans but by also doing all of the processing, roasting and packaging and branding themselves. Shipping unroasted green beans to Europe causes them to deteriorate, so not only is Café Britt doing far more to promote economic development than Fairtrade rivals, it is also creating better tasting coffee.

But Café Britt is not welcome on the Fairtrade scheme. Most of Café Britt’s farmers are self-employed small businesspeople who own the land they farm. This is wholly unacceptable to the rigid ideologues at FLO International, Fairtrade’s international certifiers, who will only accredit the farmers if they give up their small business status and join together into a co-operative. “It’s like outlawing private enterprise,” says Dan Cox, former head of the Speciality Coffee Association of America. …

Fairtrade is, in other words, a front organisation, crafted by unregenerate collectivists to con believers in nice capitalism to buy something which is neither nice nor capitalist. And the way to deal with cons is to expose them for what they are, so that only those who really do believe in the actual values being promoted here continue to support the thing. Telegraph commenters declared themselves angry and disillusioned, and congratulated Alex on a well-researched piece. I long ago stopped being angry about such people as those behind Fairtrade. I expect duplicity and destructiveness and inferior produce from this quarter. But I do congratulate Alex on a good piece of journalism, and on managing to get paid for doing it.

UPDATE: Patrick Crozier weighs in, quoting another commenter.

A great New Zealander

One of London’s top City financiers is lobbying to get a statue of Keith Park, one of the top RAF commanders during the Battle of Britain, put in Trafalgar Square. Park, a New Zealander, seems an excellent choice.

Park had the sort of qualities, according to reports, that I have come to associate with New Zealanders today: unassuming, sharp sense of humour and frequently tough as nails.

Hollywood-heads: The Oscars

Oscar for best documentary feature goes to a film, ‘Taxi ride to the Dark Side’, about how evil Americans torture people to death in Afghanistan – no doubt at the command of the evil Darth W. Bush.

And Oscar for best documentary short goes to a film about lesbian pension rights.

Hollywood has become a parody of itself.

Interfaith innovation

What is innovation? A difficult question but would this effort modestly fit?

The Inter-Faith Gown is a new hospital gown for patients who would like to be more modestly clothed….

The Problem

Some people may be reluctant to be admitted into hospital due to the revealing nature of traditional patient gowns.

The Solution

The Inter-Faith Gown is designed to preserve the modesty of patients whose culture or religion requires them to be more modestly clothed.

It is made up of five pieces – three head garments, a gown and trousers. These elements can be mixed-and-matched to enable the patient to obtain the required degree of coverage. The sleeves of the gown have elasticated cuffs to cover the patients’ arms.

Pictures are added in a tasteful jade green. Is this really what our taxes should be spent on?

Tony Singh commits the crime of fighting back

Thanks to Nick Cowen of the Civitas Blog, I have just been reading another of those man facing prosecution for defending himself stories:

A shopkeeper could be charged with murder after an armed robber who tried to steal the day’s takings was stabbed with his own knife during a struggle.

Tony Singh, 34, described as a hard-working family man who often works 13-hour days, was ambushed as he shut his shop on Sunday evening by Liam Kilroe, 25, a career criminal who was armed with a knife.

Mr Singh fought back and, after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, Kilroe was seen by witnesses to stagger away clutching the knife to his chest. Kilroe was taken to hospital, where he died, and Mr Singh was detained by police. He is now waiting to discover whether he will be charged, and is on police bail until February 29 pending further inquiries.

Lancashire police confirmed that papers had been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether Mr Singh should be charged with one of three offences: murder, manslaughter or assault.

Mr Singh, who suffered injuries to his neck and back during the struggle and had to be treated in hospital, insisted yesterday that he had acted in self-defence. …

I suppose the authorities have to consider the possibility that Mr Singh may have done something wrong despite all appearances to the contrary, but in this case they appear, unless this report is way off the mark, to have no evidence of any such thing. It could be that the police routinely hand over all the evidence in such cases to the CPS, no matter how heroically the shopkeeper behaved and no matter how completely the villain got what he deserved and how completely the heroic shopkeeper did the rest of us a favour by, as it turned out in this case, killing him. And whereas in theory there could be a prosecution, the chances of one actually materialising are very remote. In which case this is a story about lousy journalism.

But, as Nick Cowen points out, what the shopkeeper appears to have done is what the criminal justice system failed to do. He punished an already arrested and many times previously convicted career criminal, who should have been in jail already but who was actually roaming the streets trying to commit more robberies. The justice system should have stopped that, having already had every chance to do so. Tony Singh’s heroism showed up what a lousy job it was doing.

The phrase “taking the law into their own hands” is often used by the authorities in circumstances like these. But by the look of it, Tony Singh didn’t so much take the law as catch it and save it from being smashed, after the authorities had themselves dropped it. And you can’t help suspecting that, in the eyes of the authorities, this was the real crime here. Why couldn’t he just have handed over the money like a sensible chap?

The EUvil Empire strikes again

The EU has determined that passenger flights by DC-3’s flown by Air Atlantique Classic Flight or any one else must cease when new regulations come into effect on July 16th of this year. These rules are imposed upon and override UK regulations, so even though the UK CAA is on the side of Air Atlantique, it will make little difference. Brussells, not London, is the capital of the United Kingdom.

The new rules require any aircraft with more than 19 passengers must have an armoured door to the crew cabin among numerous other modifications. They even demand an inflatable slide be added to the passenger door. There are no exceptions for classic aircraft and thus after July 16th the soulless gray men will make the European world that much more like themselves.

The EU Federal State is a special case of the general truth whose promulgation is a primary raison d’etre of Samizdata: The State is Not Your Friend.

Note: If you want to fly on a DC-3 before your betters prevent you for your own good, you had better hurry. You can reach AACF at 08703-304747 for reservations.